BWW Review: BRIGADOON at Candlelight Music Theatre
I'm a bit surprised that the News Journal did not report a run on Scottish plaid leading up to Candlelight's opening of BRIGADOON. The tartans from the various clans made for a dominant motif by Costumer Tara Bowers and surely enriched the production.
One is also impressed by the consistency of the Scottish brogue by all the players. It was apparent that Director Bob Kelly had his charges in study hall practicing that delightful lilt. Set Designer Jeff Reim created a believable image of the Scottish Highlands. The majority of the women were wigged up by Lisa Miller Challenger and were natural...and curly!
BRIGADOON, opening in 1947, offers luxurious songs that are some of the most glorious in the pantheon of Broadway's Golden Years. Lerner and Loewe were inspired by the success of Rodgers and Hammerstein's OKLAHOMA! and Carousel. Thematically, the musical depicts the contrast between empty city life and the warmth and simplicity of the country, focusing on a theme of love transcending time.
Vocal Music Director Betsy Connor did a phenomenal job preparing this exuberant cast for this very magical story.
Fiona (Sophie Jones) was beautifully cast and maintains her standard as one of the leading ladies of regional theatre. The duet with her love, Tommy (Andy Boettcher) "Almost Like Being In Love" was gorgeous, sincere and well-acted. Love comes quickly in the town of Brigadoon. It must...appearing for one day only every 100 years. So, instantaneous courtships (and consummation thereof by Meg Brockie) are de rigueur!
Charlie (Anthony Connell) continues to captivate with his voice. His rousing "I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean" with the company and "Come To Me, Bend To Me" (a difficult song to sing) were outstanding. The ballet sequence following that by Jean (Hallie Hargus), making her Candlelight debut, was not only mesmerizing but an amiable change of pace.
Choreographer Jody Anderson mastered the sword dance production number with great legitimacy and it was a show stopper. Wilmington has a connection with this. Agnes DeMille, the original Broadway choreographer hired Jamie Jamieson to stage this number. Jamie later moved to Wilmington to establish a ballet school. Current Broadway legend Sue Stroman was a student. Another production number, the maypole dance (that paean to youth in love), was refreshing and exceptional.
In the movie, Mr. Lundie was a stern disciplinarian and protector of Brigadoon. At Candlelight, Barry Gomolka is a wondrous, compassionate storyteller. At the meet & greet, I commented to Gomolka about his characterization. He mentioned that he had chatted with Director Kelly about softening the rigidity of Lundie. Tommy asks hypothetically if an outsider could be permitted to stay. Mr. Lundie replies, "A stranger can stay if he loves someone here - not jus' Brigadoon, mind ye, but someone in Brigadoon - enough to want to give up everythin' an' stay with that one person. Which is how it should be. 'Cause after all, lad, if ye love someone deeply, anythin' is possible". Lundie spoke those lines with passion and resolve.
Flirtatious dairymaid Meg Brockie (Analisa Wall) was an absolute hoot. She nails the frenetic "My Mother's Wedding Day". Her wide eyes and charisma spawned a sea of smiles in the audience. Here is a star in the making.
Nitpicking time. Okay, the following thoughts do not take away from the show's obvious success. But, as Sondheim says "God is in the details". I gotta think that Tommy should be attired in more appropriate game-hunting gear. They are backpacking in the hills. I don't think he would have his shirt out, eliciting for me a too contemporary, casual feeling. In the NY bar scene, 4 months after the two men left Brigadoon, he is still wearing the same shabby pants. (Is there an ironing board back stage?) Tommy can galivant to Scotland but wears the same pants for 4 months? And finally, cell phones? Really? This is a magical play in a magical place. We love musicals because we yearn to leave Trump for two hours. Ditch the phones.
Through October 28. CandlelightTheatreDelaware 302.475.2313